POLAND: Ultras end boycott!


Last weekend the Polish Ekstraklasa (top division) finally returned from its winter break after two and a half months of inactivity. As well as the anticipation of on-field entertainment and excitement things also appeared to look up in the stands.

Legia’s and Wisla’s Ultras groups both ended their respective boycotts as well as away ends at stadiums like Ruch Chorzow’s  City Stadium finally had been brought up to a level secure enough to allow away supporters.

People unfamiliar with the situation in Poland may assume that everything is rosy after the successful hosting of the Euros, but nothing could be further from the truth. After last year’s success of Legia and Wisla advancing to the Europa League knockout rounds this season no Polish club made the group stages of either major continental tournament and the league is also seen to have regressed. Since the Euros took place the new stadiums have been filled to between a third and a quarter of their maximum capacities and generally run at a loss, while legislation and over the top security and policing have led to further conflict between fan groups, club ownerships and the authorities.

The situation has become so ridiculous that Slask Wroclaw announced ahead of last weekend’s games that their away end toilets will be closed for the remainder of the season and replaced with portaloos after fans of Zaglebie Lubin damaged them prior to the winter break. That is a stadium that less than a year ago was hosting big games such as the Czech Republic vs Russia on the opening day of Euro 2012.

The toilet incident however was minor compared to what happened to 350 away fans of Lechia Gdansk. They faced Polonia Warsaw last Friday evening and their fans had travelled around 350km after buying tickets for the game officially through their club a week and a half in advance. Unfortunately for the fans Roman Kowalski who is the security manager for Polonia decided to not let them into the stadium and refused to give a reason why. A Lechia fan representative called his club and Polonia demanding an explanation for the incident. According to the clubs they were allowed in and the only thing stopping this was the security manager. In the end the game was played without away fans who had travelled over two hundred miles while missing Fridays as work. The fans also lost their money they paid for tickets. Picture above and video below.

Ed Gibbons

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